Introduction to Narrathemes and characters

Vladimir Propp

  • Narrative- method of telling a story
  • Horror narrative- teenagers, Vacation, Place/person
  • Linear narrative-chronological order
  • Non liner narrative- Flashback, etc

Vladimir Propp- media theorist

  • Theorist is a particular conception on view
  • A system of rules of principles
  • Born in Russia 29th April- 22nd April 1970
  • “Morphology of the folktale” was published in Russia 1928
  • Extended the Russian formalist approach to narratology
  • Believed that most narratives


  • Step outline- key first line from each scene
  • 4 examples of 31 narrathemes
  • 1. A member of a family leaves home (the hero is introduced)
  • 5. The villain gains information about the victim
  • 16. Hero and villain in direct combat
  • 31. Hero marries and ascends the throne (not always literal)

Character theories

  • Narrative structure
  • Stories
  • Changed narrative structure
  • A character theory in the context of media such as; productions, films and plays
  • Is useful for analysing and understanding media in which people take on the role of an actor
  • Character theories are popular for teaching and researching media production as they are useful for appreciating the structure

Propps character study

  • The Villain-struggles against the hero.
  • The Dispatcher– the character who sends the hero off.
  • The (magical) Helpers– helps the hero in the quest.
  • The princess or prize– the hero deserves her throughout the story but is unable to marry her because of an unfair evil, usually because of the villain, the hero’s journey is often ended when he marries the princess thereby beating the villain and resulting in “happily ever after” moment.
  • Her Father– gives the task to the hero, identifies the false hero, marries the hero often sought for during the narrative, Propp anoted that functionally. The princess and the father can not be clearly distinguished.
  • The Donor– prepares the hero or gives the hero some magical object.
  • The hero– reacts to the donor, weds the princess.
  • False hero– takes credit for the hero’s actions or tries to marry the princess.


  • Still known today (propp)
  • Suggested teaching strategies for creative writing
  • Creed- Rocky gets older, becomes father figure from hero in previous rocky films.
  • Themes are still used
  • Film makers- Jean Luc Goddard, Alfred Hitchcock, George Lucas, Brad Bird

Harry potter example

  • Villain- Voldemort
  • Dispatcher- Dumbledore
  • The helpers- Ron and Hermoine
  • Princess or Prize- Hogwarts
  • Her Father- Magic
  • Donor- Snape
  • The Hero- Harry Potter

My example- The Jungle Book (2016)

  • Villain Shere Khan
  • Dispatcher-Bagheera
  • The helpers- Baloo
  • Princess or prize- Living freely in the jungle
  • Her Father- Wolves- Akela
  • Donor- Kaa
  • Hero- Mowgli


  • Villain- Shere Khan and King Louie– Main villain (tiger) wants to be boss, threatened by Mowgli as he might grow up and kill him. King Louie intimates Mowgli to give him the fire (red flower)
  • The Dispatcher- Akela (Wolf pack leader)- He tells Mowgli he has to leave the jungle for his own safety
  • The helpers- Baloo– Helps and protects Mowgli from the unknown parts of the jungle
  • Princess or prize– Mowgli wants to live freely in the jungle
  • Her Father- Bagheera– protects Mowgli and looks after him helping Mowgli along his Journey
  • DonorKaa– Gives Mowgli the knowledge about what happened to his human father
  • The HeroMowgli– Wants to stop Shere Khan from taking over the Jungle and hurting all the other animals.



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